New Yorker

Collapse of Civilisation within decades. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Paul Ehrlich: ‘Collapse of civilisation is a near certainty within decades’

Damian CarringtonThu 22 Mar 2018 22.30 AEDT

Fifty years after the publication of his controversial book The Population Bomb, biologist Paul Ehrlich warns overpopulation and overconsumption are driving us over the edge.

The toxification of the planet with synthetic chemicals may be more dangerous to people and wildlife than climate change, says Ehrlich. Photograph: Linh Pham/Getty Images

A shattering collapse of civilisation is a “near certainty” in the next few decades due to humanity’s continuing destruction of the natural world that sustains all life on Earth, according to biologist Prof Paul Ehrlich.

In May, it will be 50 years since the eminent biologist published his most famous and controversial book, The Population Bomb. But Ehrlich remains as outspoken as ever.

The world’s optimum population is less than two billion people – 5.6 billion fewer than on the planet today, he argues, and there is an increasing toxification of the entire planet by synthetic chemicals that may be more dangerous to people and wildlife than climate change.

Ehrlich also says an unprecedented redistribution of wealth is needed to end the over-consumption of resources, but “the rich who now run the global system – that hold the annual ‘world destroyer’ meetings in Davos – are unlikely to let it happen”.

The Population Bomb, written with his wife Anne Ehrlich in 1968, predicted “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death” in the 1970s – a fate that was avoided by the green revolution in intensive agriculture.

Many details and timings of events were wrong, Paul Ehrlich acknowledges today, but he says the book was correct overall.

“Population growth, along with over-consumption per capita, is driving civilisation over the edge: billions of people are now hungry or micronutrient malnourished, and climate disruption is killing people.”

Make modern contraception and back-up abortion available to all and give women full equal rights, pay and opportunities

Ehrlich has been at Stanford University since 1959 and is also president of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere, which works “to reduce the threat of a shattering collapse of civilisation”.

“It is a near certainty in the next few decades, and the risk is increasing continually as long as perpetual growth of the human enterprise remains the goal of economic and political systems,” he says. “As I’ve said many times, ‘perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell’.”

It is the combination of high population and high consumption by the rich that is destroying the natural world, he says. Research published by Ehrlich and colleagues in 2017 concluded that this is driving a sixth mass extinction of biodiversity, upon which civilisation depends for clean air, water and food.

High consumption by the rich is destroying the natural world, says Ehrlich. Photograph: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

The solutions are tough, he says. “To start, make modern contraception and back-up abortion available to all and give women full equal rights, pay and opportunities with men.

“I hope that would lead to a low enough total fertility rate that the needed shrinkage of population would follow. [But] it will take a very long time to humanely reduce total population to a size that is sustainable.”

It will take a very long time to humanely reduce total population to a size that is sustainable

He estimates an optimum global population size at roughly 1.5 to two billion, “But the longer humanity pursues business as usual, the smaller the sustainable society is likely to prove to be. We’re continuously harvesting the low-hanging fruit, for example by driving fisheries stocks to extinction.”

Ehrlich is also concerned about chemical pollution, which has already reached the most remote corners of the globe. “The evidence we have is that toxics reduce the intelligence of children, and members of the first heavily influenced generation are now adults.”

He treats this risk with characteristic dark humour: “The first empirical evidence we are dumbing down Homo sapiens were the Republican debates in the US 2016 presidential elections – and the resultant kakistocracy. On the other hand, toxification may solve the population problem, since sperm counts are plunging.”

Plastic pollution found in the most remote places on the planet show nowhere is safe from human impact. Photograph: Conor McDonnell

Reflecting five decades after the publication of The Population Bomb (which he wanted to be titled Population, Resources, and Environment), he says: “No scientist would hold exactly the same views after a half century of further experience, but Anne and I are still proud of our book.” It helped start a worldwide debate on the impact of rising population that continues today, he says.

The book’s strength, Ehrlich says, is that it was short, direct and basically correct. “Its weaknesses were not enough on overconsumption and equity issues. It needed more on women’s rights, and explicit countering of racism – which I’ve spent much of my career and activism trying to counter.

“Too many rich people in the world is a major threat to the human future, and cultural and genetic diversity are great human resources.”

Accusations that the book lent support to racist attitudes to population control still hurt today, Ehrlich says. “Having been a co-inventor of the sit-in to desegregate restaurants in Lawrence, Kansas in the 1950s and having published books and articles on the biological ridiculousness of racism, those accusations continue to annoy me.”

But, he says: “You can’t let the possibility that ignorant people will interpret your ideas as racist keep you from discussing critical issues honestly.”

More of Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s reflections on their book are published in The Population Bomb Revisited.

Press link for more: The Guardian

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How the divisive issue of climate change can be a unifier. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Contractors combed Gulf beaches for oil damage after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. (Photo by Andy Brack.)

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher  |   South Carolinians can learn something from an Alabama Christian leader who is trying to unite people through what may seem an unlikely issue – the environment.

Dr. Randy Brinson, a Montgomery gastroenterologist who is president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, is on a mission.

He wants to make climate change become a nonpartisan issue that brings people together for solutions, not allow it to continue to be a political ping pong ball manipulated by cynics for their own purposes.

“It is not a partisan issue until people make it a partisan issue,” he said this week.  “It can’t be controlled by political donations or politicians alone.

It has to involve all of us working together to reduce or mitigate factors that we can control.”

Next weekend on the Alabama coast, Brinson is hosting the first Embrace and Restore Conference.

It will be a day-long discussion to help evangelical leaders better understand the reality of changes to climate brought on by man’s interactions with the environment.

Among those scheduled to speak are Alabama’s commissioner of agriculture and former U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis, a South Carolina Republican who heads the Energy and Enterprise Initiative to promote free enterprise action on climate change.

“We are hosting the conference to highlight what aspects of climate change that we can be impactful and proactive in addressing as the body of Christ,” Brinson said.  “We also are addressing the Deepwater Horizon disaster and how to keep that from occurring again along with hurricane mitigation and homeowners’ insurance concerns.”

In April 2010, oil spewed for weeks from the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico and polluted the coast from Texas to Florida.  Eight years later, memories of the kerosene scent around Mobile Bay remain as fresh as this spring’s budding flowers.

“The issue of climate change has been so politicized by the political left and right,” Brinson observed.  “The uniting theme for evangelical Christians is the impact climate is having on those areas that are being served by missionaries, particularly in sub-Sahara Africa.  There is no denying the impact of climate change on the continent causing disease and water shortage and death.  We cannot help this region recover without addressing climate change.”

In other words, Brinson sees the connection – a nexus missed by many who ignore or don’t believe in climate change – of man’s impact on the environment in destitute places where American missionaries help.  For them to be able to do their work, he says, they need to reduce man’s impacts on climate.

This approach is not unfamiliar territory for Brinson, who gained acclaim in the 2004 election for registering more than 78,000 evangelicals through Redeem the Vote, an evangelical education initiative similar to Rock the Vote for youths.

Listen to how Brinson described man’s interaction with the environment in a 2006 interview:

“We are entrusted to protect it.   This in no way implies that we worship the Earth and see it as some kind of pagan deity, as some conservatives would attempt to stereotype those interested in the environment.   It is truly our sacred duty to protect the Earth as we utilize the resources that God has provided to us.

“These ideas are not mutually exclusive.   Most sportsmen today are professing Christians, yet they support initiatives that protect our natural forests, lakes, streams and waterways so that future generations can enjoy them. We must mitigate the man-made emissions that threaten our environment.   Just as we are commanded to treat our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit, we must care for the environment and the world around us.”

Brinson’s strategy is different from how many environmentalists use logic and science to push leaders for climate change solutions.  But what’s notable is how he offers a way to get to the same place for pragmatic solutions through the parallel path of using Biblical teachings of leaving the earth a better place by reducing environmental impacts and global warming.

This is an important lesson.  It uses what many see as a divisive issue in a unifying manner.  It’s also something the conservation community in South Carolina should embrace – to join with people who may not approach issues like they do but who want to get to a common goal.

Press link for more: State House Report

Empty half the Earth of its humans. It’s the only way to save the planet. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Empty half the Earth of its humans. It’s the only way to save the planet

Kim Stanley RobinsonTue 20 Mar 2018 22.00 AEDT

Discussing cities is like talking about the knots in a net: they’re crucial, but they’re only one part of the larger story of the net and what it’s supposed to do.

It makes little sense to talk about knots in isolation when it’s the net that matters.

Cities are part of the system we’ve invented to keep people alive on Earth.

People tend to like cities, and have been congregating in them ever since the invention of agriculture, 10,000 or so years ago.

That’s why we call it civilisation.

This origin story underlines how agriculture made cities possible, by providing enough food to feed a settled crowd on a regular basis.

Cities can’t work without farms, nor without watersheds that provide their water. So as central as cities are to modern civilisation, they are only one aspect of a system.

There are nearly eight billion humans alive on the planet now, and that’s a big number: more than twice as many as were alive 50 years ago.

It’s an accidental experiment with enormous stakes, as it isn’t clear that the Earth’s biosphere can supply that many people’s needs – or absorb that many wastes and poisons – on a renewable and sustainable basis over the long haul.

We’ll only find out by trying it.

Right now we are not succeeding’ … an aerial view of houses in Florida. Photograph: Alamy

Right now we are not succeeding.

The Global Footprint Network estimates that we use up our annual supply of renewable resources by August every year, after which we are cutting into non-renewable supplies – in effect stealing from future generations.

Eating the seed corn, they used to call it.

At the same time we’re pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate that is changing the climate in dangerous ways and will certainly damage agriculture.

This situation can’t endure for long – years, perhaps, but not decades.

The future is radically unknowable: it could hold anything from an age of peaceful prosperity to a horrific mass-extinction event.

The sheer breadth of possibility is disorienting and even stunning.

But one thing can be said for sure: what can’t happen won’t happen.

Since the current situation is unsustainable, things are certain to change.

It wouldn’t have to be imposed – it’s happening anyway

Cities emerge from the confusion of possibilities as beacons of hope.

By definition they house a lot of people on small patches of land, which makes them hugely better than suburbia.

In ecological terms, suburbs are disastrous, while cities can perhaps work.

The tendency of people to move to cities, either out of desire or perceived necessity, creates a great opportunity.

If we managed urbanisation properly, we could nearly remove ourselves from a considerable percentage of the the planet’s surface.

That would be good for many of the threatened species we share this planet with, which in turn would be good for us, because we are completely enmeshed in Earth’s web of life.

A farmer at work near the village of Lok Ma Chau, outside Shenzhen, Hong Kong. Photograph: Jerome Favre/EPA

Here I’m referring to the plan EO Wilson has named Half Earth.

His book of the same title is provocative in all the best ways, and I think it has been under-discussed because the central idea seems so extreme.

But since people are leaving the land anyway and streaming into cities, the Half Earth concept can help us to orient that process, and dodge the sixth great mass extinction event that we are now starting, and which will hammer humans too.

The idea is right there in the name: leave about half the Earth’s surface mostly free of humans, so wild plants and animals can live there unimpeded as they did for so long before humans arrived.

Same with the oceans, by the way; about a third of our food comes from the sea, so the seas have to be healthy too.

At a time when there are far more people alive than ever before, this plan might sound strange, even impossible. But it isn’t. With people already leaving countrysides all over the world to move to the cities, big regions are emptier of humans than they were a century ago, and getting emptier still. Many villages now have populations of under a thousand, and continue to shrink as most of the young people leave. If these places were redefined (and repriced) as becoming usefully empty, there would be caretaker work for some, gamekeeper work for others, and the rest could go to the cities and get into the main swing of things.

‘The seas have to be healthy too’ … vessels set sail after a four-month fishing ban on China’s Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea. Photograph: Fang Yi/China News Service/VCG

So emptying half the Earth of its humans wouldn’t have to be imposed: it’s happening anyway. It would be more a matter of managing how we made the move, and what kind of arrangement we left behind. One important factor here would be to avoid extremes and absolutes of definition and practice, and any sense of idealistic purity. We are mongrel creatures on a mongrel planet, and we have to be flexible to survive. So these emptied landscapes should not be called wilderness. Wilderness is a good idea in certain contexts, but these emptied lands would be working landscapes, commons perhaps, where pasturage and agriculture might still have a place. All those people in cities still need to eat, and food production requires land. Even if we start growing food in vats, the feedstocks for those vats will come from the land. These mostly depopulated landscapes would be given over to new kinds of agriculture and pasturage, kinds that include habitat corridors where our fellow creatures can get around without being stopped by fences or killed by trains.

This vision is one possible format for our survival on this planet. They will have to be green cities, sure. We will have to have decarbonised transport and energy production, white roofs, gardens in every empty lot, full-capture recycling, and all the rest of the technologies of sustainability we are already developing. That includes technologies we call law and justice – the system software, so to speak. Yes, justice: robust women’s rights stabilise families and population. Income adequacy and progressive taxation keep the poorest and richest from damaging the biosphere in the ways that extreme poverty or wealth do. Peace, justice, equality and the rule of law are all necessary survival strategies.

Homes in Palm Springs, where the average daily water usage per person is 201 gallons – more than double the California average. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Meanwhile, cities will always rely on landscapes much vaster than their own footprints. Agriculture will have to be made carbon neutral; indeed, it will be important to create some carbon-negative flows, drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and fixing it into the land, either permanently or temporarily; we can’t afford to be too picky about that now, because we will be safest if we can get the CO2 level in the atmosphere back down to 350 parts per million. All these working landscapes should exist alongside that so-called empty land (though really it’s only almost empty – empty of people – most of the time). Those areas will be working for us in their own way, as part of the health-giving context of any sustainable civilisation. And all the land has to be surrounded by oceans that, similarly, are left partly unfished

All this can be done. All this needs to be done if we are to make it through the emergency centuries we face and create a civilised permaculture, something we can pass along to the future generations as a good home. There is no alternative way; there is no planet B. We have only this planet, and have to fit our species into the energy flows of its biosphere. That’s our project now. That’s the meaning of life, in case you were looking for a meaning.

This week, the Overstretched Cities series examines the impact of the rush to urbanisation, which has seen cities around the world explode in size. Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to join the discussion, and explore our archive here

Press link for more: The Guardian

World scientists’ warning to humanity #auspol #sapol #StopAdani

World scientists’ warning to humanity

By Rex Weyler

Rex Weyler was a director of the original Greenpeace Foundation, the editor of the organisation’s first newsletter, and a co-founder of Greenpeace International in 1979.

Environmental activists and organisations typically try and stay positive, to give people hope that we can change.

Positive signs exist, going back to the historic whaling and toxic dumping bans of the 1980s.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol, reducing CFC gas emissions, led to a partial recovery of the ozone hole.

Birth rates have declined in some regions, and forests and freshwater have been restored in some regions.

The world’s nations have, at least, made promises to reduce carbon emissions, even if action has been slow.

A challenge we face as ecologists and environmentalists, however, is that when we step back from our victories and assess the big picture – the global pace of climate change, forest loss, biodiversity decline – we must admit: our achievements have not been enough.

Children playing near a coal plant in Central Java

25 years ago, in 1992, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” signed by 1,700 scientists, including most living Nobel laureates.

They presented disturbing data regarding freshwater, marine fisheries, climate, population, forests, soil, and biodiversity.

They warned that “a great change” was necessary to avoid “vast human misery.”

This year, on the 25th anniversary of that warning, the Alliance of World Scientists published a second warning – an evaluation of our collective progress.

With the exception of stabilising ozone depletion, they report that “humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse.”

A short history of warnings

Environmental awareness is not new.

Over 2,500 years ago, Chinese Taoists articulated the disconnect between human civilisation and ecological values.

Later Taoist Bao Jingyan warned that “fashionable society goes against the true nature of things… harming creatures to supply frivolous adornments.”

Modern warnings began in the 18th century, at the dawn of the industrial age, particularly from Thomas Malthus, who warned that an exponentially growing population on a finite planet would reach ecological limits.

Modern growth advocates have ridiculed Malthus for being wrong, but his logic and maths are impeccable.

He did not foresee the discovery of petroleum, which allowed economists to ignore Malthus for two centuries, aggravating the crisis that Malthus correctly identified.

Rachel Carson ignited the modern environmental movement in 1962 with Silent Spring, warning of eminent biodiversity collapse.

A decade later, in the early days of Greenpeace, the Club of Rome published The Limits To Growth, using data to describe what we could see with our eyes: declining forests and biodiversity, and resources, clashing head-on with growing human population and consumption demands.

Conventional economists mocked the idea of limits, but The Limits to Growth projections have proven accurate.

In 2009, in Nature journal, a group of scientists lead by Johan Rockström published Planetary Boundaries, warning humanity that essential ecological systems – biodiversity, climate, nutrient cycles, and others – had moved beyond ecological limits to critical tipping points.

Melting iceberg in the Southern Ocean

Three years later, 22 international scientists published a paper called ‘Approaching a State Shift in Earth’s Biosphere’ which warned that human growth had “the potential to transform Earth…  into a state unknown in human experience.” Canadian co-author, biologist Arne Mooers lamented, “humans have not done anything really important to stave off the worst. My colleagues… are terrified.”

In 2014 Michael Gerst, Paul Raskin, and Johan Rockström published ‘Contours of a Resilient Global Future’ in Sustainability 6, searching for viable future scenarios that considered both the natural limits to growth and realistic targets for human development. They warned that the challenge is “daunting” and that “marginal changes” are insufficient.

Last year, the UN International Resource Panel (IRP), published ‘Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity’ warning nations that global resources are limited, human consumption trends are unsustainable, and that resource depletion will have unpleasant impacts on human health, quality of life, and future development.

This year, the second “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity,” alerted us again that marginal changes appear insignificant and that we are surpassing “the limits of what the biosphere can tolerate without substantial and irreversible harm.”

The data speaks

The Alliance of World Scientists researchers tracked data over the last 25 years, since the 1992 warning. They cite some hopeful signs, such as the decline in ozone-depleting CFC gases, but report that, from a global perspective, our “changes in environmental policy, human behavior, and global inequities… are far from sufficient.”

Here’s what the data shows:

Ozone: CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) emissions are down by 68% since 1992, due to the 1987 UN Montreal Protocol. The ozone layer is expected to reach 1980 levels by mid-century. This is the good news.

Freshwater: Water resources per capita have declined by 26% since 1992. Today, about one billion people suffer from a lack of fresh, clean water, “nearly all due to the accelerated pace of human population growth” exacerbated by rising temperatures.

Fisheries: The global marine catch is down by 6.4% since 1992, despite advances in industrial fishing technology. Larger ships with bigger nets and better sonar cannot catch fish that are not there.

Ocean dead zones: Oxygen-depleted zones have increased by 75 %, caused by fertilizer runoff and fossil-fuel use. Acidification due to carbon emissions kills coral reefs that act as marine breeding grounds.

Forests: By area, forests have declined by 2.8% since 1992, but with a simultaneous decline in forest health, timber volume, and quality. Forest loss has been greatest where forests are converted to agricultural land. Forest decline feeds back through the ecosystem as reduced carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and freshwater.

Biodiversity: Vertebrate abundance has declined 28.9 %. Collectively, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals have declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012. This is harrowing.

CO2 emissions: Regardless of international promises, CO2 emissions have increased by 62% since 1960.

Temperature change: The global average surface temperature is increasing in parallel to CO2 emissions. The 10 warmest years in the 136-year record have occurred since 1998. Scientists warn that heating will likely cause a decline in the world’s major food crops, an increase in storm intensity, and a substantial sea level rise, inundating coastal cities.

Population: We’ve put 2 billion more humans on this planet since 1992 – that’s a 35 % increase. To feed ourselves, we’ve increased livestock by 20.5 %. Humans and livestock now comprise 98.5% of mammal biomass on Earth. The scientists stress that we need to find ways to stabilise or reverse human population growth. “Our large numbers,” they warn, “exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realise a sustainable future”

Soil: The scientists report a lack of global data, but from national data we can see that soil productivity has declined around the world (by up to 50% in some regions), due to nutrient depletion, erosion, and desertification. The EU reports losing 970 million tonnes of topsoil annually to erosion. The US Department of Agriculture estimates 75 billion tons of soil lost annually worldwide, costing nations $400 billion (€340 billion) in lost crop yields.

The pending question

“We are jeopardising our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption,” the scientists warn, “and by not perceiving … population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and societal threats.”

The Alliance of World Scientists report offers some hope, in the form of steps that we can take to begin a more serious transition to sustainability:

• Expand well-managed reserves – terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial – to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services.

• Restore native plant communities, particularly forests, and native fauna species, especially apex predators, to restore ecosystem integrity.

• End poaching, exploitation, and trade of threatened species.

• Reduce food waste and promote dietary shifts towards plant-based foods.

•  Increase outdoor nature education and appreciation for children and adults.

• Divest from destructive industries and invest in genuine sustainability. That means phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels, and adopting renewable energy sources on a large scale.

• Revise economic systems to reduce wealth inequality and account for the real costs that consumption patterns impose on our environment.

• Reduce the human birth-rate with gender-equal access to education and family-planning.

These proposed solutions are not new, but the emphasis on population is important, and often overlooked. Some environmentalists avoid discussing human population, since it raises concerns about human rights. We know that massive consumption by the wealthiest 15% of us is a fundamental cause of the ecological crisis. Meanwhile, the poorest individuals consume far less than their fair share of available resources.

Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

As an ecologist, I feel compelled to ask myself: if the last 50 years of environmental action, research, warnings, meetings, legislation, regulation, and public awareness has proven insufficient, despite our victories, then what else do we need to do?

That question, and an integrated, rigorous, serious answer, needs to be a central theme of the next decade of environmentalism.

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Resources and Links:

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice; eight authors and 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries; BioScience, W.J. Ripple, et. al., 13 November 2017

List of 15,364 signatories from 184 Countries: Oregon State University

Alliance of World Scientists:  Oregon State University

Recovery of Ozone depletion after Montreal Protocol: B. Ewenfeldt, “Ozonlagret mår bättre”, Arbetarbladet 12 September, 2014.

Fertility rate reduction in some regions: UN

Accuracy of Limits to Growth Study: “Is Global Collapse Imminent? An Update to Limits to Growth with Historical Data,” Graham Turner, 2014): Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute

“Contours of a Resilient Global Future,” Michael Gerst, Paul Raskin, and Johan Rockström,  Sustainability 6, 2014.

Arithmetic, Population, and Energy: Albert Bartlett video lecture on exponential growth

William Rees, The Way Forward: Survival 2100, Solutions Journal, human overshoot and genuine solutions.

Johan Rockström, et. al., “Planetary Boundaries,” Nature, September 23, 2009.

Anthony D. Barnosky, et. al., “Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere,” Nature, June 7, 2012.

Press link for more: Greenpeace

Welcome to the Third Industrial Revolution #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Welcome to the Third Industrial Revolution

Arianna Huffington

In his 2009 book “The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis,“ Jeremy Rifkin posed one of the defining questions of our time: in a hyper-connected world, what is the goal of all that unprecedented technological connectivity? “Seven billion individual connections,” he wrote, “absent any overall unifying purpose, seem a colossal waste of human energy.”

Now, I’m delighted that The WorldPost is featuring a new series by Rifkin exploring how the possibilities of an even more connected world can lead to solutions to one of our greatest crises: climate change.

With 2015 widely predicted to supersede 2014 as the hottest year on record, the topic’s relevance and timeliness are obvious. According to analysis by Climate Central, “13 of the hottest 15 years on record have all occurred since 2000 and … the odds of that happening randomly without the boost of global warming is 1 in 27 million.”

‘Thirteen of the hottest 15 years on record have all occurred since 2000 and … the odds of that happening randomly without the boost of global warming is 1 in 27 million.’

At the same time, we’re in a moment of real promise, which is why the series, the “Third Industrial Revolution,” will focus not only on the climate crisis but also on the wealth of innovation, creativity and potential solutions out there, which media too often overlook.

Rifkin, one of our premier scholars and thinkers whose work confronts a range of global challenges, sees the rise of “a new biosphere consciousness, as the human race begins to perceive the Earth as its indivisible community. We are each beginning to take on our responsibilities as stewards of the planetary ecosystems that sustain all of life,” he writes. And this new consciousness is coalescing at a moment when we are seeing a tipping point on climate change — both in terms of awareness and action.

For instance, we have seen an unprecedented commitment to common action by the leaders of the two largest economies in the world — the U.S. and China — to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In September, cities, states and provinces from around the world came together in Los Angeles to make the same commitment and to find practical ways to work together at both the global and local levels.

In June, Pope Francis drew worldwide attention to climate change with the release of his encyclical “Laudato Si,” which elevated the issue to a spiritual challenge and moral imperative. As HuffPost’s Jaweed Kaleem wrote at the time of the encyclical’s publication:

In the lengthy treatise, more broadly addressed to ‘every person’ who lives on Earth, the pope lays out a moral case for supporting sustainable economic and population growth as part of the church’s mission and humanity’s responsibility to protect God’s creation for future generations. While saying that there were natural causes to climate change over the earth’s history, the letter also says in strong words that human activity and production of greenhouse gases are to blame.

Then there is the U.N. summit on climate change, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris, with the goal of reaching a binding international agreement to reduce emissions. As President Obama told Rolling Stone in September, looking ahead to the Paris talks, “we’re now in a position for the first time to have all countries recognize their responsibilities to tackle the problem, and to have a meaningful set of targets as well as the financing required to help poor countries adapt.” If the summit leads to meaningful commitments, Obama said, that will pave the way for future progress: “Hope builds on itself. Success breeds success.”

For all the promise and possibility of official gatherings, much of the change we need will come from outside the halls of power. This is where technological advances and innovations, including the Internet of Things, are especially important. Rifkin sees tremendous potential in this aspect of increased connectivity: “For the first time in history,” he writes, “the entire human race can collaborate directly with one another, democratizing economic life.” Advances in digital connectivity, renewable energy sources and smart transportation are allowing us to responsibly shift the way we see the world and our place in it.

Rifkin labels all this the “Third Industrial Revolution” because, “to grasp the enormity of the economic change taking place, we need to understand the technological forces that have given rise to new economic systems throughout history.”

In the coming weeks, our series will outline the path ahead for the realization of this Third Industrial Revolution. And a range of other voices will join the conversation, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on how the Internet of Things can boost China’s manufacturing base and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on the need for a new, forward-looking narrative for European unity that captures the imagination of young people.

So please join the conversation on climate change, technology and the growing global movement toward solutions. And, as always, use the comments section to let us know what you think. Read the first essay here.

Press link for more: Huffington Post

Climate change is a disaster foretold, just like the First World War #auspol #StopAdani

Climate change is a disaster foretold, just like the first world war

Jeff Sparrow

“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

The mournful remark supposedly made by foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey at dusk on 3 August 1914 referred to Britain’s imminent entry into the first world war. But the sentiment captures something of our own moment, in the midst of an intensifying campaign against nature.

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s 2016 Living Planet Report, over the last four decades the international animal population was reduced by nearly 60%. More than a billion fewer birds inhabit North America today compared to 40 years ago. In Britain, certain iconic species (grey partridges, tree sparrows, etc) have fallen by 90%. In Germany, flying insects have declined by 76% over the past 27 years. Almost half of Borneo’s orangutans died or were removed between 1999 and 2015. Elephant numbers have dropped by 62% in a decade, with on average one adult killed by poachers every 15 minutes.

We inherited a planet of beauty and wonders – and we’re saying goodbye to all that.

The cultural historian Paul Fussell once identified the catastrophe of the first world war with the distinctive sensibility of modernity, noting how 20th century history had “domesticate[d] the fantastic and normalize[d] the unspeakable.”

Consider, then, the work of climate change.

In February, for instance, scientists recorded temperatures 35 degrees above the historical average in Siberia, a phenomenon that apparently corresponded with the unprecedented cold snap across Europe.

As concentrated CO2 intensifies extreme events, a new and diabolical weather will, we’re told, become the norm for a generation already accustomising itself to such everyday atrocities as about eight million tons of plastics are washed into the ocean each year.

It may seem impossible to imagine, that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we’re now in the process of doing.”

This passage from the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert concluded a piece on global warming, which was published way back in 2005. Over the 13 years since, the warnings from scientists have grown both more specific and desperate – and yet the march to destruction has only redoubled its pace.

The extraordinary – almost absurd – contrast between what we should be doing and what’s actually taking place fosters low-level climate denialism. Coral experts might publicise, again and again and again, the dire state of the Great Barrier Reef but the ongoing political inaction inevitably blunts their message.

It can’t be so bad, we think: if a natural wonder were truly under threat, our politicians wouldn’t simply stand aside and watch.

The first world war killed 20 million people and maimed 21 million others. It shattered the economy of Europe, displaced entire populations, and set in train events that culminated, scarcely two decades later, with another, even more apocalyptic slaughter

And it, too, was a disaster foretold, a widely-anticipated cataclysm that proceeded more-on-less schedule despite regular warnings about what was to come.

As early as 1898, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia initiated a conference to discuss international arbitration and limit the arms race taking place in Europe. At its opening session at The Hague, he noted that the competition between nations, in which each country was building up its forces to defend against its neighbours, had “transform[ed] the armed peace into a crushing burden that weighs on all nations and, if prolonged, will lead to the very cataclysm that it seeks to avert.”

Over the next years, the rivalries intensified, leading to further militarisation and a complex series of (often secret) treaties, as, between 1908 and 1913, the military spending of the major powers increased by 50%.

In 1912, the international socialist movement had staged an emergency meeting in Basel in Switzerland in which representatives from almost every nation spoke out for peace.

“The great European peoples are constantly on the point of being driven against one another,” the congress resolved, “although these attempts are against humanity and reason cannot be justified by even the slightest pretext of being in the interest of the people.”

Yet in early 1914, Winston Churchill noted that “the world is arming as it has never armed before”. The eventual declaration of war in August that year was still a shock – but only in the sense that those attending a patient expiring from a long illness might be startled by the death rattle.

The appeals to humanity and reason did not move states jostling for trade and commercial advantages. For the people of Europe, the arms race was disastrous; for specific governments, it made perfect sense, for those who did not compete risked falling behind.

The same might be said today.

From a global perspective, the necessity to abandon fossil fuels cannot be denied. But for individual economies, change risks undermining comparative advantages.

If we don’t sell coal, says Malcolm Turnbull, our competitors will – which was, of course precisely the logic of the British fleet expansion in 1908.

The devastation of the first world war eventually engendered a wave of revolt from a populace appalled at the carnage their politicians had wrought.

Climate change has not yet spurred an equivalent of the mutinies in France or the revolution in Petrograd or the uprising in Berlin.

Yet Labor’s appalling equivocation over the Adani mine – a piece of environmental vandalism for which there can be no justification – illustrates the urgency with which we need a new and different type of politics.

The stakes could not be higher. Lamps are going out all over the natural world … and no one will ever see them lit again.

• Jeff Sparrow is a Guardian Australia columnist

Press link for more: The Guardian

North Qld declared a ‘catastrophe’ yet again, after torrential rain #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange

North Queensland declared a ‘catastrophe’ after torrential rain

The Insurance Council of Australia has declared North Queensland a catastrophe as the region remains inundated after torrential rain

The region has been hammered by rough weather over the past four days, with more than 600mm of rain falling in some catchment areas during that period.

Innisfail residents have been warned to prepare to evacuate as river levels rise.

A group of students on school camp at the Echo Creek adventure park near Tully remain trapped by flood waters and have received an emergency airdrop of food, clothing and medical supplies.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said the “catastrophe” declaration means insurers would now prioritise claims from people affected by floods and storm-related damage.

Disaster recovery specialists will be deployed to the worst-affected areas once roads reopened, while policyholders needing help can contact the ICA’s disaster hotline on 1800 734 621.

The state government has already declared a disaster situation in the region.

The declaration gives emergency services the powers they need to respond effectively to the flood.

Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk, who will travel to flood-affected regions on Sunday, said the full extent of the damage would not be known for weeks.

She said flooding would have a detrimental impact on banana and sugar cane crops, as well as the aquaculture industry.

“We will get the full assessments over the next few weeks about the impact on the economy and I think everyone should spare a thought for the farmers who are going to feel a huge impact,” she said.

Ms Palaszczuk said one parent and one child had been evacuated from the school camp at Tully for pre-existing medical reasons, but that police had

She said the group was otherwise happy and healthy.

“No one else wanted to leave, they wanted to remain there,” she said.

“They’re in good spirits and we are in regular contact with them.”

Flooding in Ingham, where more than 200 homes were inundated is easing, as the wet weather pushes further north to Cairns.

Major flood warnings remained in place for the Herbert, and Flinders rivers. Moderate and minor flood warnings were in place for many other rivers in the region.

Press link for more: SBS.COM.AU

This time last year North Queensland was hit with a catastrophic cyclone Debbie.

Cyclone Debbie by the numbers: How it compares with Cyclone Tracy, Marcia, Yasi and the others

Felicity Caldwell12:00pm

By Felicity Caldwell

Updated29 March 2017 — 5:06pm

Cyclone Debbie had been predicted by some to be “bigger than Marcia”, the category 5 system that smashed Queensland in 2015, but while it failed to reach that level of severity, it certainly left a trail of devastation.

Debbie blew away the previous official recorded wind gust speed by more than 50km/h, with 263km/h gusts blasting Hamilton Island on Tuesday morning.

Previously, the highest wind gust recorded in Queensland was during Cyclone Marcia, on Middle Percy Island in 2015 of 208km/h.

So just how did Debbie measure up?

We’ve broken down the key facts on Debbie and how it compares with previous destructive cyclones.

How does Cyclone Debbie compare?

Debbie: Category 4 – maximum wind gusts recorded at 263km/h. Roofs lost, properties destroyed, trees felled, boats wrecked, heavy rain, flooding predicted, roads cut, 63,000 people without power.

Marcia (2015, central Queensland): Category 5 – maximum wind gusts recorded 208km/h, estimated 295km/h. Houses damaged, uprooted trees, downed power lines, storm surge, beach erosion, rainfall totals up to 300mm in 6-8 hours, flooding.

Yasi (2011, north Queensland): Category 5 – maximum wind gusts estimated 285km/h. Major property damage, banana crops destroyed, rainfall totals up to 471mm, storm surge.

Larry (2006, north Queensland): Category 4/5 – maximum wind gusts estimated 240km/h. Extensive damage to infrastructure and crops, with total loss estimated at half a billion dollars, about 10,000 houses damaged, flooding disrupted road and rail access for several days.

Orson (1989, Western Australia): Category 5 – Wind gusts of 249km/h recorded. Caused $20.9 million in damages in 1989 dollars, with damage to 70 per cent of homes in Pannawonica.

Tracy (1974, Darwin): Category 4 – maximum wind gusts recorded 217km/h. At least 65 people died, the majority of buildings in Darwin were destroyed or badly damaged, with the damage bill in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Debbie rainfall – 48 hours to 9am Wednesday

Hamilton Island – 242.4mm

Mackay – 227.6mm

Proserpine – 289.4mm – but the gauge broke at 2.42am

Bowen – 381.2mm

Moranbah – 120.8mm

Wind speeds

Strongest wind recorded on Hamilton Island – wind gusts of 263km/h at 10.30am, the wind speed at the time was 183km/h.

Debbie featured the strongest gusts official recorded in Queensland.

The strongest wind gusts recorded in Australia were 267km/h in Western Australia in 1999 during Cyclone Vance.

Other cyclones have likely brought stronger winds, with highest estimated wind gusts, but they were not officially recorded.

Debbie has been downgraded to a tropical low but still carried sustained winds near the centre of 55km/h and wind gusts up to 120km/h.

At 5am (AEST) on Wednesday, the Bureau of Meteorology indicated the system was 100km south-west of Collinsville, and 125km north-west of Moranbah.

Weather to come

Debbie was expected to more south over the central interior of the state about 14 km/h.

Damaging winds and heavy rain would continue to lash the Central Coast, Whitsundays, Central Highlands and Coalfields districts on Wednesday.

Widespread falls of up to 250mm were expected, with flash flooding possible in areas including Mackay, Yeppoon and Emerald.

The Bureau of Meteorology was predicting heavy rain in the south-east Queensland corner from Thursday, easing on Friday.

Meteorologist Adam Blazak said there would likely be strong, gusty winds on the weekend around Moreton Bay, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, with temperatures set to drop.

Dam releases and totals

Queensland dams are being monitored closely by SunWater and Seqwater following Cyclone Debbie.

The weather bureau had issued a flood watch for coastal catchments between Ayr and the NSW border.

Dams in the Bowen and Mackay area were experiencing inflows and minor downstream flows, with significant increases in outflows likely within the next 72 hours.

With heavy rain predicted in south-east Queensland, Water Supply Minister Mark Bailey said operational releases from Somerset Dam to Wivenhoe Dam would be made on Wednesday to balance supply volumes, but it would not impact flooding downstream of Wivenhoe Dam.

Wivenhoe Dam and North Pine Dam were not releasing floodwater and were unlikely to do so in the next 24-36 hours.

South-east Queensland’s combined water storage capacity was at 71.7 per cent.

Wivenhoe Dam was at 67.9 per cent, Somerset Dam was 74.5 per cent and North Pine Dam was 51.5 per cent. The floodwater storage compartments at Wivenhoe Dam and Somerset Dam were fully available.

Ungated dams – Hinze Dam, Little Nerang Dam, Wyaralong Dam and Wappa Dam – were currently spilling.

Press link for more: Brisbane Times

Swiss Re sees income tumble in the face of natural catastrophes.

Insurance companies are struggling to cope with these catastrophic events which are now occurring much more frequently because of climate change.

20,000 scientists have written to governments around the world warning of such catastrophic events.

20,000 scientists give dire warning about the future in ‘letter to humanity’ – and the world is listening.

A dire warning to the world about its future, which predicts catastrophe for humanity, is continuing to gain momentum.

The letter – which was first released in November – has now been signed by around 20,000 scientists. And the world seems to be listening: it is now one of the most discussed pieces of scientific research ever, and its publishers claim it is now influencing policy.

The new letter was actually an update to a an original warning sent from the Union of Concerned Scientists that was backed by 1,700 signatures 25 years ago. It said that the world had changed dramatically since that warning was issued – and almost entirely for the worse.

Lisa Murray’s climate change photography

Mankind is still facing the existential threat of runaway consumption of limited resources by a rapidly growing population, they warned. And “scientists, media influencers and lay citizens” aren’t doing enough to fight against it, the letter read.

If the world doesn’t act soon, there will be catastrophic biodiversity loss and untold amounts of human misery, they wrote.

Now scientists have written a follow-up piece in which they argue scientists and economists need to switch their focus from encouraging growth to conserving the planet. “There are critical environmental limits to resource-dependent economic growth,” the authors state.

The original letter was signed by more than 15,000 scientists. But it has since been endorsed by a further 4,500 – taking the total to around 20,000 and giving further encouragement to scientists working to counteract the dangers highlighted in the letter.

The lead author of the warning letter and new response paper, ecology Professor William Ripple, from Oregon State University, said: “Our scientists’ warning to humanity has clearly struck a chord with both the global scientific community and the public.”

The publishers of the letter now say that the letter is the sixth most-discussed piece of research since Altmetric records, which track publications’ impact, began. It has prompted speeches in the Israeli Knesset and Canada’s BC Legislature.

Press link for more: Independent.co.uk

“The severe natural disasters of 2017 are not only loss events, they are above all human tragedies.”

Those were the sobering words of Swiss Re group CEO Christian Mumenthaler as he revealed the company’s annual results for 2017 which saw a significant fall in income – from US$3.6 billion in 2016 to just US$331 million this time around. For Mumenthaler, the fact that the company was able to achieve any positive income results in such difficult circumstances, however, was, in itself, an achievement.

“In times like these we demonstrate the critical role re/insurance plays in enabling people and economies to recover,” he elaborated. “I am proud that Swiss Re, also through our clients, will be supporting people and businesses affected with estimated payouts of US$4.7 billion. 2017 proved how our strategy to maintain a superior capital position and pursue disciplined underwriting continues to be the right approach.”

2017 was indeed dominated by natural catastrophes.

After Cyclone Debbie in March, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, along with the Mexican earthquakes and the wildfires in California and British Columbia, caused havoc in the third quarter.

All of these events left Swiss Re with US$4.7 billion in combined estimated claims from large catastrophes.

Overall, its property and casualty reinsurance division suffered a net loss of US$413 million, with US$3.7 billion in catastrophe insurance claims the largest contributor to that fall.

Its corporate solutions division also suffered a net loss of US$741 million, with catastrophes again accounting for US$1 billion in claims.

Press link for more: Insurance business

UN Collects Data on Losses from Climate Change #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

UN Collects Data on Losses from Climate Change | UNFCCC

UN Climate Change News, 2 March 2017 – The UN has launched a new initiative to quantify the impact of disasters, mainly from extreme weather, to help countries better cope with them.

The UN estimates that around 26 million people are pushed into poverty every year due to extreme weather events, 90% of which are linked to climate change.

A new UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) initiative will collect data on disaster losses as UN Member States implement the Sendai Framework, a global plan for reducing such losses.

“Improving how we manage risk is vital and this requires a deeper understanding of where these losses are occurring and not just for major internationally recorded events.

The silent, small-recurring events such as floods and droughts can take a huge toll on communities which lack essential health services and other coping capacities,” says Mami Mizutori, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

144 countries have indicated that they will send their 2017 data by the end of March to its Sendai Framework Monitor online data capture system.

Securing adequate food resources is set to become ever more challenging as climate change accelerates. Curbing emissions and meeting the targets of the Paris Climate Change Agreement is therefore crucial to protecting global populations.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions could be the most significant step we can take towards future climate risk reduction,” says Ricardo Mena, head of UNISDR Support and Monitoring of Sendai Framework Implementation Branch.

Since 2009, an estimated one person every second has been displaced by a disaster as a result of climate change, according to the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).

The uprooting of economic and social livelihoods is set to increase as the risk of climate-related disasters grow globally.

The Sendai Framework targets and indicators contribute to measuring disaster-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular SDG 13 – Taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Read more about the UNISDR initiative here

We Need Courage, Not Hope, to Face Climate Change #auspol #StopAdani

We Need Courage, Not Hope, to Face Climate Change

BY KATE MARVEL (@DRKATEMARVEL), CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

As a climate scientist, I am often asked to talk about hope.

Particularly in the current political climate, audiences want to be told that everything will be all right in the end. And, unfortunately, I have a deep-seated need to be liked and a natural tendency to optimism that leads me to accept more speaking invitations than is good for me.

Climate change is bleak, the organizers always say.

Tell us a happy story.

Give us hope. The problem is, I don’t have any.

I used to believe there was hope in science. The fact that we know anything at all is a miracle. For some reason, the whole world is hung on a skeleton made of physics. I found comfort in this structure, in the knowledge that buried under layers of greenery and dirt lies something universal.

It is something to know how to cut away the flesh of existence and see the clean white bones underneath.

All of us obey the same laws, whether we know them or not.

Look closely, however, and the structure of physics dissolves into uncertainty.

We live in a statistical world, in a limit where we experience only one of many possible outcomes.

Our clumsy senses perceive only gross aggregates, blind to the roiling chaos underneath.

We are limited in our ability to see the underlying stimuli that, en masse, create an event.

Temperature, for example, is a state created by the random motions of millions of tiny molecules.

We feel heat or cold, not the motion of any individual molecule.

When something is heated up, its tiny constituent parts move faster, increasing its internal energy. They do not move at the same speed; some are quick, others slow. But there are billions of them, and in the aggregate their speed dictates their temperature.

The internal energy of molecule motion is turned outward in the form of electromagnetic radiation.

Light comes in different flavors.

The stuff we see occupies only a tiny portion of a vast electromagnetic spectrum.

What we see occupies a tiny portion of a vast electromagnetic spectrum.

Light is a wave, of sorts, and the distance between its peaks and troughs determines the energy it carries.

Cold, low-energy objects emit stretched waves with long, lazy intervals between peaks.

Hot objects radiate at shorter wavelengths.

To have a temperature is to shed light into your surroundings.

You have one.

The light you give off is invisible to the naked eye.

You are shining all the same, incandescent with the power of a hundred-watt bulb.

The planet on which you live is illuminated by the visible light of the sun and radiates infrared light to the blackness of space.

There is nothing that does not have a temperature.

Cold space itself is illuminated by the afterglow of the Big Bang.

Even black holes radiate, lit by the strangeness of quantum mechanics.

There is nowhere from which light cannot escape.

The same laws that flood the world with light dictate the behavior of a carbon dioxide molecule in the atmosphere.

CO2 is transparent to the Sun’s rays.

But the planet’s infrared outflow hits a molecule in just such as way as to set it in motion.

Carbon dioxide dances when hit by a quantum of such light, arresting the light on its path to space.

When the dance stops, the quantum is released back to the atmosphere from which it came.

No one feels the consequences of this individual catch-and-release, but the net result of many little dances is an increase in the temperature of the planet.

More CO2 molecules mean a warmer atmosphere and a warmer planet.

Warm seas fuel hurricanes, warm air bloats with water vapor, the rising sea encroaches on the land.

The consequences of tiny random acts echo throughout the world.

I understand the physical world because, at some level, I understand the behavior of every small thing.

I know how to assemble a coarse aggregate from the sum of multiple tiny motions.

Individual molecules, water droplets, parcels of air, quanta of light: their random movements merge to yield a predictable and understandable whole.

But physics is unable to explain the whole of the world in which I live.

The planet teems with other people: seven billion fellow damaged creatures.

We come together and break apart, seldom adding up to an coherent, predictable whole.

I have lived a fortunate, charmed, loved life.

This means I have infinite, gullible faith in the goodness of the individual.

But I have none whatsoever in the collective.

How else can it be that the sum total of so many tiny acts of kindness is a world incapable of stopping something so eminently stoppable?

California burns. Islands and coastlines are smashed by hurricanes.

At night the stars are washed out by city lights and the world is illuminated by the flickering ugliness of reality television.

We burn coal and oil and gas, heedless of the consequences.

Our laws are changeable and shifting; the laws of physics are fixed.

Change is already underway; individual worries and sacrifices have not slowed it.

Hope is a creature of privilege: we know that things will be lost, but it is comforting to believe that others will bear the brunt of it.

We are the lucky ones who suffer little tragedies unmoored from the brutality of history.

Our loved ones are taken from us one by one through accident or illness, not wholesale by war or natural disaster.

But the scale of climate change engulfs even the most fortunate.

There is now no weather we haven’t touched, no wilderness immune from our encroaching pressure.

The world we once knew is never coming back.

I have no hope that these changes can be reversed.

We are inevitably sending our children to live on an unfamiliar planet. But the opposite of hope is not despair. It is grief. Even while resolving to limit the damage, we can mourn. And here, the sheer scale of the problem provides a perverse comfort: we are in this together.

The swiftness of the change, its scale and inevitability, binds us into one, broken hearts trapped together under a warming atmosphere.

We need courage, not hope.

Grief, after all, is the cost of being alive.

We are all fated to live lives shot through with sadness, and are not worth less for it.

Courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending.

Little molecules, random in their movement, add together to a coherent whole. Little lives do not. But here we are, together on a planet radiating ever more into space where there is no darkness, only light we cannot see.

Press link for more: Onbeing.org

More than 100 cities produce more than 70% of electricity from renewables. #auspol #StopAdani

100+ cities Produce More than 70% of Electricity from Renewables – CDP | UNFCCC

The transition to clean, renewable energy is a critical component of meeting Paris Climate Change Agreement goals, and cities around the world are increasingly taking up the challenge.

According to data published by the CDP, more cities than ever are reporting that they are powered by renewable electricity.

The global environmental impact non-profit CDP holds information from over 570 of the world’s cities and names over 100 now getting at least 70% of their electricity from renewable sources such as hydro, geothermal, solar and wind.

The list includes large cities such as Auckland (New Zealand); Nairobi (Kenya); Oslo (Norway); Seattle (USA) and Vancouver (Canada), and is more than double the 40 cities who reported that they were powered by at least 70% clean energy in 2015.

CDP’s analysis comes on the same day the UK100 network of local government leaders announce that over 80 UK towns and cities have committed to 100% clean energy by 2050, including Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow and 16 London boroughs.

According to the World Economic Forum, unsubsidized renewables were the cheapest source of electricity in 30 countries in 2017, with renewables predicted to be consistently more cost effective than fossil fuels globally by 2020.

The new data has been released ahead of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conference in Edmonton, Canada on 5th March, when city government and science leaders will meet on the role of cities in tackling climate change.

Cities named by CDP as already powered by 100% renewable electricity include:

Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, now obtains 100% of its electricity from wind, solar, hydro, and biomass. The city has its own utility and citywide grid. In September 2014 the local community approved the city’s purchase of its ‘Winooski One’ Hydroelectric Facility.

“Burlington, Vermont is proud to have been the first city in the United States to source 100 percent of our power from renewable generation. Through our diverse mix of biomass, hydro, wind, and solar, we have seen first-hand that renewable energy boosts our local economy and creates a healthier place to work, live, and raise a family. We encourage other cities around the globe to follow our innovative path as we all work toward a more sustainable energy future,” added Mayor Miro Weinberger of Burlington.

Reykjavik, Iceland sources all electricity from hydropower and geothermal, and is now working to make all cars and public transit fossil-free by 2040. Iceland has almost entirely transitioned to clean energy for power and household heating.

Basel, Switzerland is 100% renewable powered by its own energy supply company. Most electricity comes from hydropower and 10% from wind. Advocating clear political vision and will, in May 2017 Switzerland voted to phase out nuclear power in favor of renewable energy.

CDP’s 2017 data highlights how cities are stepping up action on climate change with a sharp rise in environmental reporting, emissions reduction targets and climate action plans since 2015, following the ground-breaking Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees.

There is a growing momentum of the renewable energy cities movement beyond the UK, with cities around the world now aiming to switch from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

In the United States, 58 cities and towns have now committed to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy, including big cities like Atlanta (Georgia) and San Diego (California). Earlier this month, U.S. municipalities Denton (Texas) and St. Louis Park (Minnesota), became the latest communities to establish 100% renewable energy targets. In addition to these recent pledges, CDP data shows a further 23 global cities targeting 100% renewable energy.

Much of the drive behind city climate action and reporting comes from the 7,000+ mayors signed up to The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy who have pledged to act on climate change.

Kyra Appleby, Director of Cities, CDP said: “Cities are responsible for 70% of energy-related CO2 emissions and there is immense potential for them to lead on building a sustainable economy. Reassuringly, our data shows much commitment and ambition. Cities not only want to shift to renewable energy but, most importantly – they can. We urge all cities to disclose to us, work together to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and prioritize the development of ambitious renewable energy procurement strategies. The time to act is now.”

Showing a diverse mix of energy sources, 275 cities are now reporting the use of hydropower, with 189 generating electricity from wind and 184 using solar photovoltaics. An additional 164 use biomass and 65 geothermal.

CDP reports that cities are currently instigating renewable energy developments valued at US$2.3 billion, across nearly 150 projects. This forms part of a wider shift by cities to develop 1,000 clean infrastructure projects, such as electric transport and energy efficiency, worth over US$52 billion.

Read the relevant CDP press release here

For a full view of cities generating electricity from renewables, visit the CDP’s list of world renewable energy cities

Press link for more: COP23.UNFCCC